Plastic-free program runs too slow: Activists
Despite its ambitious campaign to free Bali from hazardous plastic waste by 2013, environmentalists view the government-sponsored program as being ineffective.
Catur Yudha Haryani, head of Bali’s Center for Environmental Education (PPLH), commented that the plastic-free program was positive. “Unfortunately, the program has been slow moving since the very beginning. I am pessimistic that the provincial administration can achieve its target to free the island from plastic waste and other unnatural trash,” Catur commented on the sidelines of the Plastic Clean-Up program at Lebih Beach in Gianyar on Friday morning.
In 2010, the Bali provincial administration launched its Bali Clean and Green Program in an attempt to restore and protect the Balinese environment, which is facing gigantic development projects and a
The administration also vowed to free the island from plastic garbage as part of its Bali Clean and Green Program by the end of 2013.
Data from the Bali Environmental office shows that the island produces an average of 1,000 cubic meters of plastic waste every day. This is about 10 percent of total daily garbage.
All of this plastic garbage not only clogs up the land, but also hurts the island’s beaches and marine biota.
Catur acknowledged that people’s lack of awareness had become the most difficult problem that
hindered various environmental programs.
Separately, Yuyun Ismawati, founder of BaliFokus and the recipient of the 2009 Goldman Prize for environmental activism, told Bali Daily that the governor’s commitment to make Bali a plastic-free island by 2013 was really a great vision.
“However, without strong political will and real action from the government, we will not be able to achieve the target together,” said Yuyun.
Since 2010, BaliFokus together with several organizations in Bali, such as Say No To Plastic (STNP) Ubud, Green Lifestyle, PPLH, EcoBali and others, have actively participated in the development of Bali provincial regulations on controlling plastic bags, and hence, plastic waste.
“We also discuss this issue with supermarkets and retail associations to find ways to phase out plastic bags in Bali.”
She also urged the administration, as well as the entire community, to act quickly and start changing their daily habits.
“To stop the plastic trash, we should stop making conventional plastic bags. Start producing and promoting bags from natural and biodegradable products to replace plastic trash. In many countries, the 10-mm thin plastic bags have been banned.”
Yuyun said that the Balinese people still saw the modern world’s waste as being like the olden day’s waste, mostly organic.
“They do not realize that the stuff we use and consume every day now is mostly disposable and designed for obsolescence so the manufacturing of the products and the wheels of production can still be up and running for a long time without considering the finite resources.”
Governor Made Mangku Pastika admitted that it had been very tough trying to arouse awareness in
the Balinese to keep the island clean and green.
“I just saw participants burning the plastic trash they had just collected. Burning trash is environmentally hazardous,” Pastika said after the clean-up program on Lebih Beach.
People, he said, found it hard to understand that plastic waste was dangerous. “It will take time to convince them,” he said.
Law No. 18/2008 on waste management prohibited people from burning trash and the administration itself had just violated it, said Catur.